Indians Abroad

Amartya Sen

Famous As Welfare Economist
Born On 3 November 1933
Born In West Bengal, India
Nationality Indian

One of India's greatest pioneers in social theories, Amartya Sen is the name who revolutionized the image of Indian society with his socio-economic policies. Better known for his contributions in classifying the reasons for famine that affected the country post-Independence, Amartya Sen forwarded feasible solutions to curb effectively the crisis that once plagued the nation. A Ph.D. in economics, Sen extensively researched on various problems affecting the socially backward communities. Over the years, he introduced innovative solutions to help underdeveloped countries cope with social problems like poverty, famine, gender inequality, human rights, and biased liberalism. This earned him the title of "the Conscience and the Mother Teresa of Economics." Sen has written many books to convey his theories on social welfare, most of which gives you an insightful and practical elucidation on how to curtail such crisis. Read the article below to know more about his life and contributions.

Early Life
Amartya Sen was born in a Hindu Brahmin Bengali family in Santiniketan, West Bengal, although his ancestral roots can be traced back to Dhaka, the present day capital city of Bangladesh. He hailed from an educated and illustrious family. His grandfather Kshiti Mohan Sen was a close companion of Rabindranath Tagore, while his maternal grandfather was believed to be an associate of Sukumar Sen, the renowned Chief Election Commissioner of India. Born to a homemaker mother Amita Sen and chemistry lecturer father Ashutosh Sen, Amartya Sen spent much of his childhood basking in the limelight of public eye, thanks to his illustrious background. He started his academic life from St. Gregory's School in Dhaka. However, post-partition in 1947, his parents moved to West Bengal. He took his later training in Visva-Bharati University and Presidency College in Bengal where he graduated in economics. Sen moved to London, where he enrolled in Trinity College, Cambridge to pursue his vocation in economics and it was from the University of Cambridge from where he attained his doctorate degree in Economics.

Even before Amartya Sen completed his Ph.D., he left to India to begin his career in teaching. There he was introduced to Triguna Sen, who appointed him as the professor of economics at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. After two years of teaching at the university, he left to London to complete his Ph.D. In the following years, he dedicated his entire time in studying philosophy, which helped him in his future research work. However, his urge to move took him places in the following years. He would often shuttle between London and Kolkata, to teach and continue his research on his social theories. When he finished his Ph.D. in 1959, he was recruited as a visiting facility in a number of universities including Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell, and Massachusetts Institution of Technology. In the year 1972, he moved back to India and started teaching at University of Calcutta and at Delhi school of Economics. During this period, he completed his extensive research on "Collective Choice and Social Welfare." After that, Amartya Sen went on to teach Economics in a slew of elite institutions like London School of Economics, University of Oxford, Nuffield College, All Souls College, and other distinguished universities. Having witnessed a famine in his childhood, Sen was interested in bringing out social reforms to improve the condition in underdeveloped countries with his adaptable socio-economic policies to abolish shortage of food. Apart from this, he also put in much effort to forward constructive reasoning and ways to improve the condition of the poor and consciously worked for the welfare of the socially backward communities. His work shed new light on the country's many social problems such as poverty, famine, human underdevelopment, gender inequality, and political liberalism and brought about successful reforms.

Achievements and Awards
Amartya Sen was elected as the Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the year 1981.The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to him for his work in welfare economics in 1998. In 1999, he was honored with the Bharat Ratna by the then President of India. The year 2000 proved to be a good year for Amartya Sen as this was the year when he was bestowed with a number of distinguished awards such as Companion of Honour in UK, Leontief Prize from the Global Development and Environment Institute, and Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service. In the same year, he was also chosen as the Commencement Speaker of Harvard University. In 2002, he won the International Humanist Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. The Indian Chamber of Commerce, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific, a Bangkok based organization, honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the years, he also took to writing to put forward his views and ideologies to bring about a social change. Some of his popular publications are "Collective Choice and Social Welfare", "Hunger and Public Action", "More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing", "Reason Before Identity, Development as Freedom", "The Argumentative Indian", "The Three R's of Reform," etc. are a few of his interesting reads.

Personal Life
Amartya Sen is married to Nabaneeta Dev Sen, a well-known writer and scholar, with whom he fathered two children and has two daughter, Antara and Nandana. The former is a journalist and the latter is a Bollywood actor. Amartya and Nabaneeta's marriage was short lived as they parted from each other in 1971. Two years later after the separation, he married a Jewish lady named Eva Colorni. In 1985, she died from stomach cancer. During their marriage, Eva gave birth to two children Indrani, a reporter and Kabir a music teacher. Amartya Sen is presently married to Emma Georgina Rothschild, an economic historian.

Time Line
1933: He was born on 3 November 1933 in West Bengal.
1959: Completed his Ph.D. from Trinity College, Cambridge.
1981: Sen was appointed as a Foreign Honorary Member by American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
1998: He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
1999: The Bharat Ratna was awarded to him by the President of India.
2000: Sen was honored with a number of awards including Leontief Prize, Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service and Companion of Honor.
2002: The International Humanist Award was granted to him.
2003: He was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Indian Chamber of Commerce.
2006: Time magazine listed him under "60 years of Asian Heroes."
2010: Listed among "World's 50 Most Influential People Who Matter."